Hibachi in Philly: dinner and a show

Hannah Misner

Not much compares to a night out that combines my two biggest interests: food and entertainment. This glorious combination made my Sunday night. Nine friends and I ventured into Philadelphia for a friend’s birthday celebration at our reserved table at Hibachi Japanese Steak House on North Columbus Boulevard.

Honestly, the sketchy trek to the restaurant put most of us on edge. A relatively small sign for the “steak house” sat atop the entrance of a parking garage on Pier 19. The next five minutes were a miniature scavenger hunt for the next arrow that would hopefully point us in the direction of a cure for our growling stomachs. We were eventually led to an unmarked elevator, and as we ascended in the rusty cage, it felt as if we were on our way to a meeting of a secret society. At the second floor, however, we finally reached the pot of gold.

Although we had reservations, there was a short wait, which was surprisingly pleasant despite the group’s growing hunger. We skipped over the comfy-looking designated waiting area and went to the empty bar and lounge to wait. This was when we saw the view of the water off of Pier 19.

The restaurant has large windows for a majority of its walls, which accentuate the view that is spectacular at night. The atmosphere was serene as we chatted and watched the ebb and flow of the water. In this large bar/lounge area, I noticed a mini-stage where I learned a jazz band performs every Sunday for brunch between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

We were seated near the water at one of about a dozen tables/cooking stations that seat 10 (which was perfect for our group that night). As smaller parties arrived, they were seated with others until the table was full. Having our table comprised completely of close friends made the experience even better.

After our drink and food orders were taken, salad was brought out to tide our appetites. Soon after we gobbled the vegetables, our chef arrived, who said we could call him “King Kong.” He was very friendly with us from the start and commenced with a few tricks involving his cooking tools. When we informed him that it was our friend’s birthday, he immediately ran into a back room and gave her a chef’s hat to wear during dinner. He even let her chop his “onion volcano!”

After the ooh’s and ahh’s faded, he proceeded to cook fried rice for us to munch on while we gawked at his culinary talent. When we finally were given our plates, the table went silent as we all enjoyed the product of his labor. I ordered New York Strip Steak Teriyaki, which was very juicy and tender. Each entrée included a vegetable medley of broccoli, onions, zucchini and mushrooms that was also flavored to perfection.

The menu is filled with various meats, seafood and sushi, of course. King Kong spared a few pieces of shrimp, with which he used his tools to flip into the air for us to catch in our mouths.

The birthday girl received a free dish of ice cream with a candle on it after dinner so we could thoroughly embarrass her with our off-key rendition of “Happy Birthday.” After a meal, drink and included gratuity, each of us ended up spending between $30 and $40, which was not too bad for the quality of both the food and the entertainment. For a break from movie nights and Wingers orders, head into Center City and experience Hibachi.